Lauren Seider is an illustrator and designer based in Kansas City. Her studio and illustrations tend to be full of light and vibrant color, and lots of yellow raincoats! In her practice, these things are all connected – manifesting the world of the Yellow Raincoat Society. The Y.R.S. represents an optimistic intention present in Lauren’s illustration work and the way she goes about making and living.
When not busy with top secret business of the Yellow Raincoat Society, she spends her time developing a body of work highlighting moments of stillness, mystery, and contemplation, as well as investigating her interests in agency illustration, pattern design, licensing, and children’s books.
See more of her work on her website, yellowrainoatsociety.com, or follow her day-to-day studio explorations on her instagram @yellowraincoatsociety.
What comes first – the medium or the message?
Most of the time the message comes first. As an illustrator, the images I make almost always tell a story, and so I take idle daydreams seriously just in case they present themselves over and over in my head as a story that really needs to be told. I then consider what medium is best suited for bringing that story to life through color, texture, and form. Other times, I discover the stories and messages I want to tell through explorations with medium that begin without any particular focus, finding a direction or story along the way. I think of it like stumbling across something backwards; stepping through the back door of a story and ending up in the thick-of-it without realizing how you got there!
What do you feel is your role as an artist?
Partway through high school, when I first truly decided I wanted to go down a path as a creative professional, I wrote a heart-filled manifesto about what I wanted my art to do; it was something pretty cheesy about reminding others about how good the world can be. I might be critical of what I wrote now from a (just slightly) more experienced position, but I truly do think that manifesto still stands as a marker of my artistic focus. I want the art I create and the things I do in all facets of life as an artist to serve positively those who come in contact with me and with my work. I want to highlight small things often forgotten or overlooked, make places of stillness and reflection, point out the possible extraordinary future, create from a place of optimism; and as members of the Yellow Raincoat Society would say, fight the gloom!
What influences your practice/works?
On the surface: My fascination with color and the ability of color to influence narrative is a big factor in the materials I use, as well as a love of pattern, texture, and playful experimentation.
Looking beneath the surface: My work is influenced by those things truly important in my life: my faith, my friends, my family. The people, ideas, and histories I surround myself with are what I borrow from and recall in the works I make and the stories I weave through them.
Who are the other artists you look to for inspiration?
I draw a lot of visual inspiration from Early Medieval Christian art, the Renaissance artist Pontormo, Henri Matisse, and Louise Bourgeois-- just a few names from a very long list. I also am constantly keeping up with and being inspired by current working editorial and book illustrators, some favorites of mine being Jillian Tamaki, Lisk Feng, Monika Forsberg, and Isabelle Arsenault.
I also draw much inspiration from the works of young adult/juvenile fiction authors such as Madeline L'Engle and Diana Wynne Jones, whose books represent a genre of literature I find really fascinating and foundational to the work I have done with The Yellow Raincoat Society.
What other writings do you recommend reading to have a better understanding of your artworks and your art practice/process?
Perhaps not directly related to my work, but Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, and Paolo Coelho's The Alchemist stand for me as some of the most powerful stories, and I can only dream and work as hard as I can to one day try and tell a story as superb.